Association between gray matter volume variations and energy utilization in the brain: Implications for developmental stuttering

Nathaniel Boley, Sanath Patil, Emily O. Garnett, Hua Li, Diane C. Chugani, Soo Eun Chang, Ho Ming Chow

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

3 Scopus citations


Purpose: The biological mechanisms underlying developmental stuttering remain unclear. In a previous investigation, we showed that there is significant spatial correspondence between regional gray matter structural anomalies and the expression of genes linked to energy metabolism. In the current study, we sought to further examine the relationship between structural anomalies in the brain in children with persistent stuttering and brain regional energy metabolism. Method: High-resolution structural MRI scans were acquired from 26 persistent stuttering and 44 typically developing children. Voxel-based morphometry was used to quantify the between-group gray matter volume (GMV) differences across the whole brain. Group differences in GMV were then compared with published values for the pattern of glucose metabolism measured via F18 fluorodeoxyglucose uptake in the brains of 29 healthy volunteers using positron emission tomography. Results: A significant positive correlation between GMV differences and F18 fluorodeoxyglucose uptake was found in the left hemisphere (ρ =.36, p <.01), where speech-motor and language processing are typically localized. No such correlation was observed in the right hemisphere (ρ =.05, p =.70). Conclusions: Corroborating our previous gene expression studies, the results of the current study suggest a potential connection between energy metabolism and stuttering. Brain regions with high energy utilization may be particularly vulnerable to anatomical changes associated with stuttering. Such changes may be further exacerbated when there are sharp increases in brain energy utilization, which coincides with the developmental period of rapid speech/language acquisition and the onset of stuttering during childhood.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2317-2324
Number of pages8
JournalJournal of Speech, Language, and Hearing Research
Issue number6s
StatePublished - Jun 2021


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